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“Not as wonderful as expected.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Shindzela Tented Safari Camp

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Shindzela Tented Safari Camp
3.0 of 5 Cabin/Campground   |   Johnniesdale Farm | Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa   |  
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Johannesburg, South Africa
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“Not as wonderful as expected.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2012

I was so excited to go to a bush lodge/luxury tented camp, and was very sorely disappointed. For the price paid vs. what we actually got, I do not see this as value for money. However, let me focus on all the good stuff first:
• The staff are wonderful, friendly, accommodating and helpful. No matter what, they will try their best with what they have to make you stay as special as possible. They are unobtrusive, but chat to guests, and tell great stories around the campfire at night.
• The hot water bottles in the bed at night (as it was mid-winter), was a super touch.
• Everything was neat and clean and in good working order.
• I loved the little detail on the table décor for each meal, and the effort the staff go to, to make the area attractive for meal times.
• The outside shower area is a treat, however, in winter, use in the middle of the day as it’s a bit cold otherwise!!
• When on game drives that were rather dull (the animals just did not want to be seen on this trip, and this CANNOT be blamed on the Lodge) the guides really tried to give additional information about trees, plants, scat/dung, birds and other interesting facts about the bush.
• The bush walk each morning was wonderful and an opportunity to learn about the small stuff. Our guides were knowledgeable and pointed out an abundance of interesting facts on the flora and smaller fauna.
• The food was wonderfully “presented” by Millita each day, delicious and homely, but I make further comments below.
• The sundowner game drives were lovely, and a really spectacular photo opportunity especially with stark leafless trees against the setting sun.
• For a camp that only runs on solar-power, I think that the lighting in the tents was great – you can read a book before you sleep!
The not-so-good stuff (and I will state here that I do understand the logistics of a bush camp and its “special needs”, however with a little creativity things can be done differently):
• There are no hangers or anywhere to hang any clothes, and when staying for longer than a night, it’s nice to unpack (there are only 2 hooks on the back of the door). I hung my stuff over the window flaps!
• There are no bedside tables or a spot to put your reading glasses or book or tissues
• It is vital that on each game drive an experienced tracker is taken, as the combination of driver/guide and tracker meant that we got to see more. Our less experienced guides tried their best and did a great job, however, an experienced tracker is exceptionally beneficial. (Sam, you are quite amazing!!)
• For the price we paid, at least there should have been decent coffee – French press coffee can still be made as it does not require power! Surely a few individual presses, and a choice of ground beans would add a little touch of class here.
• Having the same lemon creams for every snack is just not acceptable. What about rusks, or homemade cookies? These can easily be made in bulk and dry stored, especially if you can’t get out to buy goods regularly.
• I note some comments about snacks or extras – perhaps you need to state in a sign that due to “monkey business”, goodies are safely stored but always available to guests.
• Suggestion – the website needs to clearly state that you should not expect to be able to charge batteries or phone or anything as solar power only works for this if there are really sunny days and enough power has accumulated. I noted how some foreigners were not impressed by this, and neither was I, thank goodness I had enough battery life for my camera.
• The food was exceptionally plain to say the least. Although delicious and filled the spot, there was little variety or interest. Pasta in various forms for 3 meals is a bit too much! There was a variety of flavours, however, overall it just seemed boring, lacking creativity or any “zhoozhness” to it
Overall, unimpressed, will not return and think there are better options. For foreigners I can understand how this place is wonderful and special if they have not experienced the bush before. As a South African, I have experienced better for less.

Room Tip: Ask for a tent by the river. Or ask for the one furtherest from the main part of the camp - it will...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
shindzela, Owner at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp, responded to this review, August 22, 2012
Thank you for your comprehensive review. We will certainly take up some of your issues raised with the management in camp, and value your thoughts.

We would however, like to state that Shindzela is not a luxury safari destination, and we are quite open about this fact in all our literature. It was unfortunate that you had made an error in your booking dates, as we had the office and camp trying to locate you, late on the first day. Happily we were able to amend your dates upon reaching you a day later.

We have made changes to the camp menu's, and trust that guests will enjoy the new dishes. Additional solar and emergency generator power is now available.
Thank you.
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239 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (43)
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English first
Solon, Ohio
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2012

We just returned from a three-week visit to South Africa, and, I must say, our time at Shindzela Safari Camp with the highlight of the trip. It was a wonderful experience--perfect in every way--and I am so happy that we had the good fortune to be able to stay there! From the moment that we arrived until, sadly, we had to leave, every aspect of our stay was exceptional, Dave and his two, very talented guides, Mike and Sam, made sure that we had lots of opportunities to view the wildlife, and consistently went out of their way to always make sure that we were having the best experience possible. Every single meal was delicious, the tents were cozy and comfortable, and I can not think of one negative thing to say about our stay. We will always remember our stay at Shindzela--it was an amazing adventure.

Room Tip: We enjoyed being near the water hole, where we could sit on our porch and enjoy the wildlife.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
shindzela, Owner at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp, responded to this review, August 22, 2012
Hi,
We are so pleased that you enjoyed your stay at Shindzela - it is always great to have fun and enthusiatic guests in camp. We hope you had great memories to take home and a bunch of safari snaps and video to show friends and family!
We do hope that you will visit again, and return to this special country. Your Shindzela team
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Adelaide, Australia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2012

I stayed at Shindzela for 3 days with my two teenage daughters and we were completely unprepared for such an amazing experience. Our guides Peter and Monica we obviously very experienced in taking tours and were able to generate amazing wildlife interactions for us. We saw several leopards, rhino on a walking tour (which is a must) plenty of elephant, buffalo, lions and other animals as well as a number of additions to my bird list. If you ask questions they always have an answer.
The accommodation was very comfortable - the hot water bottle a great surprise on the first cold night in July - and the food excellent. This is an authentic comfortable camp to visit which families will enjoy without the pretension of some of the more upmarket venues.
Watched zebra and impala at the waterhole as we relaxed in front of our tent; listened to various night time visitors from inside our tent!.
Thank you for a memorable holiday.

Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
shindzela, Manager at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp, responded to this review, August 22, 2012
Dear Mark M

Thank you so very much for your great review! We are so pleased to hear that you and your family had a wonderful time and experience! I have passed on your kind words to the Camp as well!

Take Care and hope to see you again in the near future
Regards, Shindzela Reservations
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Savannah, Georgia
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2012

This was my nephews first trip to South Africa. We spent a few day's prior to our arrival at Shindzela in The Kruger Park. The bush experience that we had at Shindzela exceeded our expectations. Peter and Monica were knowledgeable and eager to find the game. Of course you must go into with the knowledge that these animals spend a better part of their lives avoiding humans. That being said it was the luck of the draw finding the animals that most seek out. We were fortunate in some incidents but not so in others. It certainly wasn't from the lack of trying, it's just a game of chance. I applaud Peter and Monica's efforts, I often felt that it must be equally frustrating for them as well when the game is not plentiful and in plain sight. The staff was accommodating on all accounts. The food was freshly prepared and offered in a timely manner. The dishes were pleasing to the palate and reflected notes of traditionally prepared cuisine. Perhaps in the future consider a way to keep the food at temperature without jeopardizing the integrity in the manner in which it is to be served. The tents were serviced daily and the hot water bottles in the evening tucked under the duvets was an added bonus. The other guests are few and much like the wildlife it's a game of chance. I would suggest you have a friend or partner accompany you. Thanks to the Aussies we had a great time mingling. It's a beautiful place and fairly easy to find although you may not think so at first the directions supplied by Shindzela are spot on. Rent a high profile vehicle, and mind the bush. Overall I would highly suggest Shindzela. It's a unique experience with a rustic flair and offers a great chance to get personal with nature.

Room Tip: of course all of the tents are exceptional but if you can mange to get the two tents on the furtherm...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Manager at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp, responded to this review, July 12, 2012
Hi southernchef67,

Many thanks for your review on Shindzela! I will pass on your kind words to the Staff!

Looking forward to hosting you again at Shindzela!
Regards, Shindzela Reservations
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London, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2012

We thoroughly enjoyed our recent stay at Shindzela. The camp is comfortable and the staff are lovely - we felt so at home at this camp! We had some fantastic game drives with Dave and Sam, where we came across lions (!!), elephants bathing in the dam, rhino, giraffe, zebra and hyena... just to name a few. So enjoyed drinks with the hippo at the dam and watching the sun set over the incredible landscape. The ladies cooked us tasty homemade meals and dessert was always a great 'Mmmmm' surprise.

I can't wait to visit Shindzela again... it's not a fve star, but in my opinion, offers so much more than a luxury lodge!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Manager at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp, responded to this review, July 4, 2012
Hi RoamingTravel2012,

Thank you so much for your kind words! We would love to keep in touch with you, please follow us on twitter /facebook and keep an eye on our blogs for more updates on whats happening in camp!

I will also pass on your message to the staff!
Take Care
Shindzela, Reservations
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Ostrava, Czech Republic
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2012

We been in Shindzela in mid-May. The camp itself is nice - staff, food etc. But from my point of view think well when are you going to go there. The bush was very thick and the life - game viewing there was quite disappointing. I though private resorts mean they share transmitter (like they do on private safaries in KP!) so they share the experience. The reality is each resort has its on land with strict prohibition to go to the other one meaning you drive only the roads (density also differs) they have so actually you have to be lucky to drive them at the right moment when game passes... (which was the most on KP border..). Price before season should be definitely much lower than 100R as the game viewing is quite different. Also a least water could be part of the deal, you have to buy each and every drink. But can imagine that with proper game viewing and nice resort on its own one can live with it.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Owner at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp, responded to this review, June 29, 2012
Dear Lucie P,
Thank you for your views posted on Tripadvisor - all correspondence from our guests is valuable to Shindzela. We are sorry that your visit did not meet your expectations.
We are always looking at ways on improving our safari experiences, and have had a meeting with staff and guides in camp to submit your feedback.
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Chicago, Il
Top Contributor
102 reviews 102 reviews
51 hotel reviews
Reviews in 55 cities Reviews in 55 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2012

I don't even know where to begin. This was my best trip ever. If utilizing an open air bathroom bothers you and strange noises outside your tent at night would scare you – then you should look for something else. Shindzela is authentic. You want the real thing – this is for you. There is nothing between you and the bush. YOU ARE IN THE BUSH ! They are “green” here. The entire camp is run on solar energy. Here are a few tips about getting here and about the camp. Get to the Timbavati gate by 1pm. If you hall butte from the gate to the camp (which I wouldn’t suggest) you can get to Shindzela in 30 minutes. You will want to take your time - this is the best part of the drive in. Take at least an hour to an hour and a half. Drive it at about 20-25 Kilometers an hour. You are going to see a bunch of wildlife from the gate to the camp. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR TO TAKE PICTURES. This isn’t Disney World. If you get out in the wrong place at the wrong time - something will eat you. If you come here in winter – bring fleece and flannel night clothes. It might be 70-80 degrees in the day – but it drops to 30-35 degrees at night. The camp ladies will put hot water bottles in your bed at night which is a nice touch – but it is chilly. Bring a kick butte camera. You will not regret spending the extra money. The camp won’t guarantee you will see wild life – but when we where there it was all around us – in fact they have resident Warthogs who live under the dining area who you’ll find sunning themselves in the car park. For some reason they don’t like Peter. Zebras, Cape Buffalo, and Elephants come to the waterhole. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TENT AT NIGHT. I thought they were joking but it’s not a joke. There are hyenas running through the camp and the elephants and cape buffalo like to pass through as well. You’ll see shadows from the window flaps and you will hear all kinds of critters at night. The lions in this area are well fed and specialize in taking down cape buffalo – but you are not going to want to have a face to face in the camp. You are crazy if you do not go on every drive. You don’t want to miss anything. A couple while we were there decided to sleep in one morning and take a pass on a morning drive and hike. Well – they really missed out when we were cornered by a herd of elephants on the morning drive back to camp. We took the most amazing pictures. We highly encourage you to ask for walking Safaris. This is REALLY BEING IN THE BUSH. There was only one walk we didn’t see any wild life – but Mike and Sam (our bush guides) are so incredibly knowledgeable about the bush and tracking game – whether or not you run into something you will get an education. You never know when you will need to stop for impala poop spitting contest. In the winter dress warmly and when walking or on a drive bring a back pack. You will want to take off layers when the sun rises and put on layers as the sun sets. Don’t wear shorts on the walking safari. Your legs will get ripped apart from the bush – it is also suggested to wear long sleeves as well. Lastly – make sure you bring a couple thousand Rand in cash. You are going to want to tip the staff generously and there is a 300 or 400 Rand conservation fee when you leave. It’s worth it – believe me you won’t mind leaving a generous tip.

As for the accommodations… They are great ! The tents are comfortable and the bedding is top notch. I really like the open air bathrooms. It was rather refreshing to take a shower outside. The toilette’s water pressure and shower were normal. Just like if you were at a hotel. The camp ladies were wonderful. They made you three meals a day and the food was great. Typical English breakfast in the mornings (Eggs & Sausages) light lunch (typically Western) and dinner could be anything from Lamb, Steak or Chicken. It was comfort food – but they will also take requests before you get to camp and they accommodate special diets. They have plenty of beverages at the camp and during the drives the guides always bring beverages. Coffee & Tea in the mornings. Beer & Wine for the evening drives. If you want additional snacks etc. I would suggest (as we did) stopping at a Checkers, Pick N Pay or Spar and buy a cooler and fill it up with beer, wine, and snacks (lunch meets etc) and keep it in your tent. During the day you have time between drives to just chill out at the camp and it is nice to just sit around with the other guests and have a few beers (or glasses of wine) and come up with concepts like “Kudu Economics” (you had to be there).

All in all – this was an incredible experience. Our bush guides Sam & Mike were wonderful and incredibly knowledgeable. They take you right to the edge for the full bush experience and they never disappointed. The camp managers Peter & Monica kept everything running smoothly and made sure we were accommodated in every way. The camp ladies busted their buttes preparing our food (which was wonderful) and keeping our tents tidy and clean. We greatly appreciated everyone’s friendliness, hospitality, and hard work. It is worth every penny. I cannot wait to come back. We’ll be back upon our next visit to South Africa.

Room Tip: Ask for the tent near the waterhole
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
, Owner at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp, responded to this review, June 27, 2012
Dear Viator 1,

Thank you for posting such a valuable and insightful review for Shindzela Safari Camp!
We thoroughly enjoyed having you to stay in camp - I know the camp staff and guides loved your visit and still talk about it. A time of lots of laughs and good humor!

It is always nice to have guests who really like being in the wilderness, and where you can soak up so much knowledge of nature.

Thank you also for mentioning the Timbavati entry fees. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the Timbavati Conservation fee (which is currently R160.00 per person - once off, not a nightly fee) All Reserves, including the Kruger Park have Conservation entry fees. These fees are vital to enable Reserves to fund important Conservation initiatives, not least of which is training good anti-poaching teams to protect our wildlife. Funds such as these also go to important research projects, and help to monitor many ecological issue's. In particular, protecting our Rhino is critical

Guests must always feel free to ask the ladies for any fruit or cookies during the day if they feel like a snack. We had tried to have a fruit platter and cookie jar out at the tea table, but found that the squirrels frequently helped themselves too! You do have to be a bit careful leaving food stuffs in your tent - only because it can attract vervet monkeys and they start to "steal" from tents and can become a problem to guests. Elephants can also smell some fruits from a long way, and could take a "special" interest to your tent!

PS - the warthog still does not like Peter! And check out what happended to his camera trap on our Blog

Wishing you all the very best and we so hope to see you visit us again. Laura and Monica
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Additional Information about Shindzela Tented Safari Camp

Address: Johnniesdale Farm | Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 14 Specialty Lodging in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Shindzela Tented Safari Camp 3*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Shindzela is an authentic tented bush camp situated in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, greater Kruger National Park. The camp accommodates a maximum of 16 guests and is unfenced, making it very much part of the wilderness. Shindzela is not built by an award winning architect, nor is it furnished by an interior designer. What you will find though, is a comfy bed, freshly laundered linen, and décor from local crafters and artists. Shindzela is a comfortable/rustic tented bush camp, where you can relax, enjoy our warm hospitality and immerse yourself in the African wilderness. We love our informal, relaxed atmosphere. Each safari tent is built on wooden decks, and has their own en-suite shower/toilet and hand basin. The camp also has a swimming pool and overlooks our little watering hole, from where you can watch animals come down to drink. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Shindzela Tented Safari Camp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Shindzela Tented Safari Camp South Africa/Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

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